How Data Can Improve Your Prayer Life

In most areas of life, you would never rush to your leader with a huge request without first collecting data.  There are three reasons for avoiding this.

First, your leader might actually grant your hasty request.  Unfortunately, this can create additional issues if the request doesn’t solve your problem or if it births extra problems.

Second, your leader may deny your request because the results seem unclear or unsafe.

Third, your leader may deny your request simply because you already possess what you need.

Things don’t have to end up this way.  The results of prayer can be so much better than this.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe prayer is foundational—whether in scarcity or in abundance.  I wholeheartedly believe in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 when it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

At the same time though, I agree with Matthew 6 when it says, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

Instead, God is a God of data.  A God of information.  And he wants us to be that way too.

This is particularly true when praying for loved ones or for your community.

For example, James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

If God wanted us to pray for one another without information, he would have nixed any recommendation for confession.

Access to personal confession isn’t always available, but prayer is still required.  This is particularly true when praying for large groups of people.  In this situation, you may need to rely on survey data or sampling data to get an idea of what burdens need to be given to the Lord.

Without reliable data, our prayers lack precision.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think God needs our prayers to be precise to answer our prayers.  God is all-powerful and all-knowing even when we don’t communicate well with him.

Instead, the precision is for us.  If we aren’t precise, it makes it difficult for us to know what’s truly going on.  For example, we might feel we have a need for an immediate financial rescue.  If we aren’t precise, we make it difficult to see the possible answers that God may have for us.

Sure, we may notice a pay increase.  That’s fairly obvious and upfront.  But if we aren’t precise, we may not realize that we have a leaky faucet in a guest bathroom.  We may not realize that we have a streak of jealousy that’s causing us to buy unnecessary purchases.  We may not realize that God may simply want us to be patient.

So I plead with everyone who is reading this.  Seek the data in your lives.  It’s the key to deeper communication with each other as well as with the Lord.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

02 Prayer with Text

There Are Only 3 Types of Homeowner Personalities

Every neighborhood has them.  Every friend group has them.  They’re everywhere like gnats in the summer time.  But can you quickly identify the three types of homeowner personalities if you encountered them? Have no fear.  The answers are here.

The Nit Picker Personality

NaggingThis is your former roommate.  Don’t you remember him?  He was always complaining about how your apartment was not as good as someone else’s.  It was quite annoying while you were in a lease together, but now you’re stuck together in the same poker group.

Things haven’t changed too much except the item of ridicule isn’t an apartment anymore—it’s a house.  Ironically, your old buddy is in the house of his dreams—from two months ago.  Ever since moving into the house, he hasn’t said a positive word about the place.

End Result: He will take the negative-equity hit and move into a “better” house.

The Delusional Personality

DenialThis is the lady that sits next to you at work.  She and her husband live in a house with a mortgage that consumes way too much of their monthly take-home pay.  And that’s not including electricity, maintenance, and other house-related things that cost money.

Unfortunately, they won’t sell the house because they are holding on to hope the husband will get another high-paying job again.  He got laid off 3 years ago and has never really fully-recovered.  Don’t worry though.  That doesn’t keep them from using debt to give off the impression that everything is still okay.  After all, the kids are in amazing school district where they are now.

End Result: She will eventually be punished with a foreclosure.  To make matters worse, her husband cheated on her with a neighbor down the street.

The Contented Personality

contentmentThis personality is rare.  It is so rare and silent that you simply may not have noticed it.  The person is the assistant manager of your favorite local fast food restaurant.  In fact, he or she comes home smelling like fries every single day.

Despite the smells, this person makes the best of every situation.  He or she may not have all the perks imaginable, but that doesn’t stop creativity from happening.  He or she is quietly becoming a millionaire right in front of your eyes.

End Result: This person will not move very often, but when he or she does move, it’s with a purpose.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.